Pi in the Sky

Much like Britney Spears, pi is an irrational number, and one that has fascinated mathematicians for centuries. However, what is irrational about pi is not that it goes around shaving its head and writing 666 on its skull. In layman’s terms, this mysterious number is irrational because the decimal representation of pi is infinitely long, and it never repeats. Specifically, pi is a transcendental number.

I spoke with Dr. Lucianovic at Stanford University’s math department (who is, it should be noted in the interest of full disclosure, my husband) and asked why mathematicians love pi so much they give it a day of celebration. He said:

It’s one of the most fundamental constants of the universe. It describes the ratio of the circumference of any circle to its diameter, but it also appears in some of the most basic equations of calculus, geometry, and number theory. Plus, mmmmmm … pi.

Today, March 14 (3.14), is Pi Day, and at 3:14 p.m., Harvard’s math department starts its annual pie-eating contest. Hungry participants will have 3 minutes and 14 seconds to stuff as much pie down their mathematical gullets as possible. The winner is determined by the weight of the pastry left behind.

Celebrate Pi Day in your own kitchen by baking up a transcendental pie in this deliciously eggheaded Pi Dish or make irrational cookies with this copper cookie cutter. Of course, if you’re lucky enough to live near one of these eateries, just order in pizza.

Just remember one thing, if you get Pi-eyed, don’t drink and derive.

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